Jikomboe Upesi is a group of discordant couples (where one partner is positive and one is negative) living in the Kabiria / Kawangware slums of Nairobi. The group was formed by Julius Mukangala, an amazing and dedicated man who first contacted Mama Biashara in 2008, after his home and butchery business were destroyed in the post-election violence. Despite frequent illness and struggles to keep his own family fed and clothed, Julius started this group and approached Mama B around a year ago.
The first thing we did with the group was a preliminary business workshop followed by a FUDAKA workshop (our unique sex education project). Then it was down to micro-financing a load of businesses - from bike repairing, through barbers and charcoal sellers to cafes and greengrocers.
This turned into a steep learning curve. The excellent feedback from Julius revealed that one of the group had encouraged other to 'take the money and run'. He (and one other) promptly did. A few others took the money and neither set up their agreed businesses NOR ran. And so on my follow-up visit I found myself (along with Julius) at the local Chief's office, asking for the miscreants to be summoned. Suffice it to say that the group as a whole now realise they have collective responsibility for the grants made to their members and almost all of the miscreants have been to face the local Chief and have a) returned the money or b) put it to business use. A couple of men still have arrest warrents out for them. Both MAma B and the group learned much from this experience.
Some of the returned money was used to rent a shamba (allottment) in Kwa Maji in Kaberia. Here Julius plans to grow both food for eating and for selling. And so far the group has done incredibly well. Pictures will be available so you can judge for yourselves ! Mama Biashara has furnished the group with tools, sacks for growing greens, a small shelter and a new four year lease, making them eligible for government grants to help the growing. It is thanks to Julius that this has been so successful, but many of the group give time and hard hard work to keep the quarter acre growing !
Next up for this group, we want to get a small extra plot and four goats. These will be used for milk, for breeding and for meat - feeding back into Julius's planned butchery business and Alfred's already booming 'hotel' business.